Looking for Diversity? Look for a Difference of Opinion Not Value.

OpinionToday’s market place moves quickly.  Almost too quickly.  Making a living, making a profit requires individuals and companies to think fast and adjust course with cheetah-like speed.  Innovation is the “new normal.”  (I just needed to throw in the newest overused phrase to feel like a business hipster.)

Innovation is a function of diversity.  Innovation almost always comes from an amalgam of ideas that create something new and different.  In other words, you need people in your company that think differently than you.

But you don’t want people who ARE different from you.

Opinion VS Values

Opinions are beliefs and judgments not based on certainty; held with confidence but without proof. Opinions are the raw materials of innovation. Opinions are what lead us down the path to proofs which lead to facts. Different opinions are required for innovation. Values are beliefs in which we have an emotional investment. Values are consistent. Values are the foundational blocks on which we act. Values define us. Opinions can change. Values usually don’t. Something huge has to happen to realign values, but the introduction of a new fact can change an opinion.

Why spend so much time on definitions of the terms opinion and values?

Simple. Hire for differences of opinion not differences in value.

Too often we seek to introduce “new blood” into an organization to help us up the innovation quotient. Good plan.  We want and need people with different points of view.  Different opinions.  That’s good.  But don’t confuse a difference in value for a difference in opinion.

Similar values are required for a strong, ongoing organization.

Different opinions are required for innovation.

Very different.

Why Do You Have That Opinion?

Often in our hurry to inject diversity, we listen for people who have different ideas than ours – different opinions.  But we gloss over the foundation for those opinions.  Are their beliefs based on available information and some mental extrapolation leading to that opinion?  Or are they driven from a different set of values?  Are they “emotionally invested” in that point of view?  Could you sway their opinion in the interview?  If not – it’s probably a values issue and you want to be sure their values and the company’s line up.

Ask the questions that dig deep into the reason people hold their opinion.  Find out if they have different values – or if they just have a different opinion.

Similarity in values – differences in opinion.  That’s what you really want.

But this is just my opinion.

FOT Background Check

Paul Hebert
Paul Hebert is the Senior Director of Solutions Architecture at Creative Group Inc and a writer, speaker and consultant. Paul focuses on influencing behaviors and driving business results through employees, channel partners and consumers. Over the course of his career, Paul has worked closely with clients to design influence, marketing, motivation, incentive, loyalty, recognition and reward programs to increase effectiveness and reduce costs. Paul is a recognized authority on incentives and performance motivation. Want to know what’s going to motivate your people to perform at their best and impact the bottom line? Want to know whether your service award program really means anything at all? Curious what psychological principles drive sales behavior? Paul’s your guy… unless you fervently bow down to Maslow. Check out his personal blog at "What Is Paul Thinking?" when you're tired of his FOT rants.


  1. Intriguing and useful perspective. Certainly a good twist on behavior based interviewing tactics.
    Tell me about a time when,,,,?
    What led you to that conclusion,,,,,?
    Why did you reach that conclusion,,,,,?
    What about the other players, what were their thoughts,,,,?
    Drilling down from behavior, through opinions and into values. I like it.

  2. I am so excited to see the true difference between two inseparable words Opinion and Values.I agree that Similarity in values – differences in opinion.Opinion is the word which give respect to the order of man by doing certain useful things and its rate of succession.But the values is self respect and honour of the person which he had since its birth.Both the words are used to interlink each other and they can not be separated as they have combined useful meaning which give good task to define some useful things in life.

  3. Paul, good posting,”Often in our hurry to inject diversity, we listen for people who have different ideas than ours – different opinions.’
    Running my first large business I made this mistake and brought in a CEO who’s opinions and values we thought we bring new excitement and energy to the company, but instead caused more problems then he fixed.
    Sometimes you just have to live and learn from these mistakes and the only way to learn is to actually make the mistakes!

  4. your emphasis on the sample size and demographics.Youre forgetting that a survey of news watchers is going to relate to demographics of news watchers and not demos of non news watchers.
    Damn I was hoping my anti anxiety meds suggestion could be a magical fix! And thank you for the kind words about my Grandmother, that means a lot.

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